Madurai

Residents join hands to raise old chavadi by six feet in Madurai

Residents of Palanganatham enthusiastically supervise the work to raise the basement level of a chavadi, which is said to be more than 200 years old.

Residents of Palanganatham enthusiastically supervise the work to raise the basement level of a chavadi, which is said to be more than 200 years old.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

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People of Palangamatham say the structure is more than 200 years old

On Monday afternoon, a group of residents of Palanganatham here were trying to communicate in English, Tamil and sign language to some Hindi-speaking workers, who were renovating a chavadi, a common meeting place, in the area.

P. Vairamuthu of South Street was instructing the workers to ensure that the concrete was dried properly for a strong foundation for the chavadi.

The residents were inspecting the work as they had all contributed money to raise the level of the structure, said to be more than 200 years old, and renovate it.

Dearth of open spaces in the locality led around 4,000 families of Palanganatham to take up the initiative. The renovation of the chavadi was necessitated as successive laying works carried out over the years raised the level of the road above that of the chavadi.

“Currently, the residents have pooled in around ₹25 lakh for the restoration work. The basement of the chavadi is being raised by about six feet from the present level,” says Marichamy Pandi, a resident-organiser.

“The chavadi was an important public space where the elderly and commuters used to rest,” recalls 97-year-old A. Parvathi, whose family has been residing in Palanganatham for four generations. “Family disputes were resolved and marriages were discussed in the chavadi,” she says.

“The chavadi has been an integral part of villages in Tamil Nadu,” says V. Vedachalam, an epigraphist and historian. “Since the 15th century, the common place was called ‘usaavadi’, which later became chavadi. The revenue officials of erstwhile kingdoms used the chavadis as tax collection centres,” he says.

“But, many chavadis across the State have become victims of expanding urbanisation,” says Mr. Vedachalam. “Such public-driven initiatives, in which the residents take ownership, will help in reviving them,” he adds.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 10:14:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/residents-join-hands-to-raise-old-chavadi-by-six-feet-in-madurai/article30141791.ece

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